Re: Items in a Series and Comma Use
This is one of those battles that will go on forever and never, ever be settled to everyone's liking. For the record, I am an old journalist (among other things) and in our industry, the last comma is not needed.
This, that and the other thing is good.
This, that, and the other thing is not good.
Do both sentences carry the same meaning....yep.
Whether the two sentences carry the same meaning
depends on what "that" and "the other thing" are:
if they are two concepts or objects that could be
combined (e.g., "marketing and communication") then
a comma before the conjunction clearly indicates
that they should be read separately rather than
The main point of mandating use of the serial comma
is that the writer does not have to examine each
occurrence to make sure that the sentence cannot be
potentially misunderstood: if you use the comma all
the time, then the sentence is always clear and the
final two objects cannot be read as combined. Using
the comma doesn't hurt anything and it is potentially
helpful so why not use it if there is no benefit to be
gained by leaving it out?
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